Just like everyone else in the world, I just watched the second season of Orange Is The New Black and, just like everyone else in the world, I loved it. I was a bit shocked by just how much I liked it. I think there’s the kind of liking when you read or watch something and you enjoy it a lot and incorporate it into your worldview and remember it fondly for years or decades. And then there’s the kind of liking when you read or watch exactly the right thing at exactly the right time in your life.
And that’s a different level of liking. I mean, I’m not sure I can think of a TV show that I’ve enjoyed as much as this. But I feel the same way about it as I felt during the week when I read Sandman between 1-4 AM in the night, every night, while hopped up on caffeine and working on a report for the World Bank. I’m not sure that’s the greatest graphic novel I’ve ever read, but the sheer desolation and apathy of the Sandman universe really affected me profoundly in a way that I’m not sure it would have if I’d read it in a different time and place.
I feel the same about OITNB as I did when I read Adrian Tomine’s Sleepwalk and Other Stories while I was in the second to last day of a one-week sprint to complete a novel. There it wasn’t just his subject matter (apathetic slackers and their sly little lives), but also the style of his stories. To me, they felt revolutionary in their formlessness. The way they ended in places that didn’t feel like endings and dwelled for ages on things that didn’t seem at all worthwhile. I still remember the one about the kid getting a summer job at a print shop. He works there for a summer, shoots the shit with his coworkers, then says goodbye and leaves at summer’s end. Nothing happens. But it captures the feel of nothing happening in such a startling way. And because my life was in a weird heterostasis at that moment, I think it resonated with me more strongly than it would have.
Or reading The Jungle while I was vacationing with my parents and staying on their boat. Actually, I have no idea why that stuck with me so strongly, but it did. Man, The Jungle is amazing.
Anyway, I don’t yet have the perspective to know why this affected me so profoundly, but someday, I imagine, I will.
(In case anyone cares, I was most into Rosa, the cancer-ridden bank robber. Oh, and the two surprisingly dangerous old ladies: the one with the chest tattoo and the one with the stringy hair. They were the best. And Poussey’s flashback. I loved it. And also Taystee’s flashback, although that made me feel really sad. And Red. Oh my god, Red. She was tremendous in this season. And Crazy Eyes! Never my favorite. But her performance in the season finale was like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was incredibly compelling. And Black Cindy! They gave her so much personality. It’s amazing how they filled out all the little side characters from the first season. Oh my god, and Morelli. I almost cried during her flashback episode. And I was even compelling by Jason Biggs’ plotline! I mean, it wasn’t my favorite, but his parts were still sweet. He does still some have of that awkward American Pie charisma to him)